Even Less is More

Jimmy Kimmel takes the summer off and when he came back in the fall he was offered another three-year contract extension.

What’s this?  Work less, make more?  Not a new concept.

Johnny Carson cut back to working four days at peak popularity, then three and anyone performing at a high level in any profession either takes time off or faces burnout – even college professors take a sabbatical.

Working long and hard is a common element of success but working less so that you can continue to do more helps rewrite the expression to say “even less is more”.


No one thing changes any little thing.

But many little things can bring about one big change.

Incorporating micropractices into daily routines helps rehearse for success – for example, spending less time looking at screens starts with a little less time and endless multitasking eases when we prioritize a few things.

It’s kind of like a to-do list in a way.

The larger tasks sits there while the smaller and usually less significant ones get done because it takes less time or it’s easier.

But the revelation is chopping up big tasks into smaller parts gets the best results.

So it is with micropractices to change habits – nibble away, don’t try to gobble it all up at once.

Multitasking Surprise

Multitasking overstimulates the brain and stresses you out and stress feeds more anxiety.

It is a factor in higher levels of depression and anxiety among social media users.

Things are proven to not get done faster by multitasking – the brain is not wired to do any two cognitively demanding things at the same time in spite of how we may feel when we check more things off our task list.

There is an exception to the multitasking rule:  Choose any other thing that doesn’t stimulate the language part of the brain and it works simultaneously, no problem – listen to music, do the laundry.

I ran this past my NYU stress class recently and a few students said they liked how they felt when they multitasked until they considered the science – one thing at a time and then onto the next is the most efficient and mentally healthy way to handle a busy life.

Being Underestimated

The NFL awarded the New England Patriots multiple compensatory draft picks late in the 2000 draft due to the free agency defections.

One of those was pick No. 199 overall in the sixth round.

The six quarterbacks drafted before (combined) started only 191 games and threw 258 touchdowns.

The Patriots’ pick won 286 games in his career, including seven Super Bowls, and threw 737 touchdowns in the regular season and playoffs combined.

Tom Brady went from last to first.

I like to think about things like this because being underestimated has its advantages – we should use them.

Unwanted Stress

A great deal of our stress comes from others – they feel it, express it and we soak it up like a sponge and carry it around until for our own sanity we have to squeeze it out.

In other words, if you could not absorb the stress that others feel (those close to us, related to us or in our path), we would reduce life’s stressor and have a better chance to deal with our own.

By prioritizing a reasonable number of things that make us anxious and deciding which ones to handle first.

And there are tools – scheduling all worries for one specific hour, one day a week keeping the rest of your life relatively stress-free.

Remembering that 99% of what we worry about never happens and the 1% that does usually doesn’t happen the way we fear.

But the big deal is resisting the stress in our lives generated by others.

Time Blurring

“If you’re inclined to report that time is dragging, my life is vanishing, maybe the thing to do is simply try to inject more distinctive or unique experiences into it…then there’s more in your story to tell and it’s not slipping through your fingers.”  — Dr. Ian Phillips of Johns Hopkins

Downsizing Depression

A new Ohio State study confirms acts of kindness toward others has a positive effect on anxiety and depression.

It gets our minds off negative thoughts and keeps us connected with other people.

Doing kind deeds and fixating on the needs of others turns out to be an effective non-medicinal approach compared to focusing on our problems or unhappiness.

An act of kindness is defined as “big or small acts that benefit others or make others happy, typically at some cost to you in terms of time or resources.”

When to Take a Pay Cut

Never, unless you are the head of a company asking others to do so.

Apple CEO Tim Cook who without a doubt makes a ton of money, just asked to have his salary slashed by $35 million – that’s not nothing.

Did I mentioned he asked for the pay cut?

In radio, for example not one CEO has asked for a pay cut even though they routinely conduct layoffs and firings in essence losing the goodwill of the remaining employees.

One CEO, Emmis Communications’ Jeff Smulyan did during extremely hard times and his employees love him for it.

The leader makes the most money so the ones who are willing to make the biggest sacrifice wins the enthusiastic cooperation of those working below them.

The Perfect Apology

I’m sorry.

Not “sorry IF I offended you”

Plus the specific reason why.

And what I will do to make it right.

Recently a CEO of a startup told 35,544 customers he was sorry for badly packaged, late delivery of squeezable bottles of olive oil.

He was thanked for his honesty, some even declined to take advantage of his make-up discount saying they’d buy again at the full price as a result of the apology.

Humans make mistakes, what’s wrong with a heartfelt apology?

But apologizing for the same thing over and over usually backfires even if the apology is perfect.

The Benefit of 5% More Resilience

Scientific studies of the brain show that improving psychological resilience just 5% can lower risk of mental health issues by 15%.

That means even addressing mental health strengthening delivers triple the benefits.

Adults and especially young people are suffering from anxiety, stress and depression at a high rate – in fact, it has become an epidemic.

To get there focus on small victories that offer immediate reward and gratification.